It takes several regular meetings with trust lawyers in Orange County or other legal professionals to plan assets and create a trust. But all of that is worth it when that living trust comes into action.

However, it's very possible to misplace the actual physical copy of a trust document. Section 15800 of the California Probate covers your rights to petition in court and receive the terms of the trust, remove a trustee, and more. As beneficiaries of living trusts, you have several rights that require fiduciary duties from the trustee and other professional agents.

What are your options when you aren't in possession of the trust documents? In this article, we'll go over the steps you can take to retrieve trust documents with the help of trust lawyers in Orange County, CA.

We provide this information for general information purposes, but we recommend getting in touch with a law firm for personalized advice and assistance.

Can Beneficiaries Obtain a Copy of the Estate Accounts? 

A revocable living trust is private and can be revoked at any time, which means that only the living trustors have the right to the full text of their trust. However, after their death, a revocable trust becomes an irrevocable trust, and the beneficiaries then have a right to a copy.

If you are the beneficiary of this type of trust, you are entitled to a copy of their documents after the death of your parent or a trustor.  However, if the trust has multiple trustors, things can become complicated, depending on the instructions in the trust.

As a direct beneficiary, you have the right to an accounting from the trustee because you are considered an equitable owner of the trust assets and accounts. Always remember that you can request to see a trust's bank statements and file a petition in court if your trustee does not supply them upon request.

However, there are some limits to your access to irrevocable trusts. Special needs trusts, for example, appoint a trustee who will manage the assets and provide regular disbursements that will not interfere with government benefits. Similar limits apply to charitable trusts.

A living trust attorney in Orange County can help you sort out the specifics and understand your rights as a beneficiary.

Here are some of the items that can be found in an estate trust:

What Steps Do I Take to Find My Missing Trust?

Living trusts are a valuable tool for distributing assets. As your parents create this legal document, they will work with living trust attorneys to set up plans for trust administration, inheritances for loved ones like yourself, and more. It may also include information about advance directives, power of attorney (POA), and burial plans.

Your parents are the only individuals who have access to their living trust while they are still alive. Until they pass away, their full estate plans are private.

Losing the only copy of the trust means that you'll need to take several extra steps to access your inheritance. Trust lawyers can step in and ensure that you receive trust property.

Parker Law Offices can help trustees and beneficiaries avoid probate by petitioning in court.

Section 17200 (B): What is the Court Capable Of?

The probate court may require you to submit a petition and undergo a lengthy legal process if you lose or misplace a copy of your parent’s trust. But it's possible to get legal services that will help you use the California Probate Code 850 Petition to receive your inheritance as originally intended.

The California Probate Code 850 Petition provides several options that you can pursue. Some examples include:

However, it can be tough to parse probate code on your own. An experienced lawyer can handle all of the legal issues related to your trust and inheritance. Parker Law Offices serves the entirety of Orange County, from Laguna Beach and Mission Viejo to Buena Park.

Tips on Safekeeping Trusts

If you're concerned about losing a trust and still have yours, it may be time to invest in proper storage for your legal documents.

The best lawyers recommend a fireproof, waterproof safe for storing essential papers. Regardless of any natural disasters, your trust will remain intact and easy to find without a search.

Another good idea is to maintain multiple copies. You can keep some copies with your attorney, in a safety deposit box, or another secure location.

Building a Trust-Based Estate Plan With Parker Law Offices

Petitioning the court in the US is a long, arduous process with multiple steps. The California courts estimate that each step can take more than a month, and the entire case can take anywhere from nine months to over a year, or even longer.

Hiring an experienced living trust attorney in Orange County will ensure that you can receive your inheritance through the court process in a timely manner, even when all the documents are not available. We can help you submit an 850 Heggstad Petition that will provide a court order, allowing you to claim the assets you are entitled to. Our team has experience with courts in Santa Ana and Costa Mesa.

Each individual case is different, and our law office thrives on handling each case. We establish an effective attorney-client relationship with thoughtful conversations. Our team can help you bypass having to present the actual estate planning documents, including the will or trust.

Frequently Asked Questions About Finding a Missing Trust

When you are missing a copy of a trust, you may be concerned about probate, accessing the assets contained in the trust, and more. We've answered some of the most common questions from clients.

Am I entitled to a copy of the trust as a beneficiary?

Once a trust becomes irrevocable, you are legally entitled to a copy of the trust documents from an attorney or successor trustee, if available.

Can you inherit assets without a trust or will?

Yes. Various sections of the California Probate Code allow for situations where you are entitled to receive assets even with a missing will or living trust.

Do wills and trusts serve the same purpose?

Legally, a living will and living trust serve different purposes. A living trust is a private document, which can be troublesome if it ever gets lost. Trusts are often far more specific and detailed than wills, although there is some overlap.

Trusts are vital for getting your inheritance smoothly and avoiding the probate process and potential estate taxes. When they do get lost, Parker Law Offices can provide solutions. Our experienced lawyer has years of experience working in the Orange County, California area.To schedule a free consultation with an Orange County living trust attorney, you may fill out our online form or contact us at Parker Law Offices today!

Creating a will and estate plan takes time, but it’s one of the best things you can do to make things easier for your heirs, and legal assistance from an Orange County estate planning attorney is what you’ll need to secure your instructions.

However, estate planning isn’t a one-and-done activity for most people. Over the years, people buy and sell property, gain and lose family members, and deal with other major life changes. 

It’s possible for real property to slip through the cracks and get left out of the relevant trust documents, even when the deceased intended to include it in a trust. But what happens then? 

An estate planning lawyer in Orange County can help you file a Heggstad petition to transfer the relevant property into the trust without facing probate. Here’s how the petition works.

What Is a Heggstad Petition?

After a person dies, their estate must be distributed according to both the local law and the legal documents they have signed to plan their estate. 

It can be difficult to juggle several estate planning documents and keep them all updated. The creator of a trust may not transfer all of their property to the trust—sometimes omitting property or not remembering to transfer title to property back to the trust after a refinance.

When this happens, that property is normally destined to go to probate, where a judge will determine its fate.

A Heggstad Petition allows the beneficiaries to skip this costly, inconvenient process. Instead, it allows beneficiaries to transfer the property directly into the trust without going through a long court process. This petition is a useful option for beneficiaries who would otherwise need to deal with the delays and expenses associated with probate. 

To make use of the Heggstad petition, you must be able to prove that the decedent intended to include property in the trust. There are several reasons you may file this petition:

What Is the History of the Heggstad Petition?

The petition was named after a California Court case from 1993, which set the precedent for it.

In the case of Halvard L. Heggstad, he listed an asset on his schedule of assets but didn’t officially transfer it to his trust. When his family realized the error, they went to court and argued that the schedule of assets indicated that he meant to include it in his trust.

The court ruled in favor of the family because they were able to prove that Heggstad meant to include the property in the trust. Since then, it has become part of the California Probate Code. Now, other families can add potential assets to trusts even after the trustor has died.

When Should You File a Heggstad Petition? 

A Heggstad petition is generally more affordable than probate, and it also has the benefit of saving time. A trusted living trust attorney in Orange County can help you with this process—from start to finish.

Heggstad petitions are normally filed by a beneficiary or family member of the trust creator. If the trust is valid, and you think that the creator of the trust left out a property unintentionally, you should file a petition. 

Crucially, the Heggstad petition requires you to show that the decedent meant to include key property in the trust but accidentally left it out. Whether this was due to failing health, clerical errors, or another reason, you should be able to make a case for the intent if you plan to file a petition. 

There are several ways to show that the decedent intended to include a property in the trust. As in the original case, listing a property on a schedule of assets often counts as proof.

There are plenty of other ways to provide proof, and your Orange County trust administration attorney can help you find the best options for your case.

What Documents are Needed for a Heggstad Petition?

In order to file this petition, you’ll need to show some relevant documents to your attorney. There isn’t a strict list of requirements, but you should include as much relevant information as you can. These documents will help your attorney make a better case for your petition. 

First, you’ll need to provide some basic information about the beneficiaries and the decedent. If you move forward with filing the petition, you are required to notify all beneficiaries 30 days ahead of time.

You should have a copy of the trust, so the attorney can refer to the specific language it contains and interpret it. This affects the petition and how your attorney decides to move forward. The deed to the property or a description of it is also necessary.

Providing proof of intent is essential. The schedule of assets is an important document here because it can demonstrate the decedent’s plans to include property in the trust. If there are any other legal documents that show intent to include property, these are equally relevant. 

When Should Estate Plans Be Updated?

The best way to deal with an issue is by preventing it. If you have a will and trust as part of your estate plan, consider reviewing and updating them. A probate attorney in Orange County can help you adjust your estate plan for your ever-changing life. 

It’s best to review and update your estate plan as often as you can, to account for any marriages, divorces, or births in the family. Any major changes to property ownership or financial situation may also warrant an update to those documents.

An estate planning lawyer in Orange County would suggest that reviewing your documents every few years will help you identify any updates you need to make. Careful revision of documents will also prevent mistakes and inconsistencies between documents, so your loved ones can avoid court and legal expenses.

Estate planning is a complex endeavor, and it goes more smoothly with the help of an attorney who specializes in estate and probate law. 

To learn more about how we can help your family file a petition or resolve other estate issues, contact us at Parker Law Offices today.

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